The UFC is going to try once again to get Hall of Famer BJ Penn back into the Octagon.
After several attempts by Penn to return to mixed martial arts competition failed in 2016, UFC officials on Monday announced that Penn would headline its first event of 2017. He will square off with Yair Rodriguez in a UFC Fight Night headliner on Jan. 15 in Phoenix, a special Sunday night event.
Injuries, Anti-Doping Policy issues, and personal issues conspired to derail several attempts by Penn to fight in 2016, culminating in the cancellation of UFC Fight Night: Penn vs. Lamas in Manilla due to a Penn injury.
Penn (16-10-2) exited the sport in 2014 after a loss to Frankie Edgar. That bout had followed Penn sitting out the entirety of 2013 following back-to-back losses to Nick Diaz and Rory MacDonald.
Having won UFC championships, at separate times, in both the lightweight and welterweight divisions, Penn determined that his most recent retirement was more of a sabbatical and moved his training to Jackson-Wink MMA in Albuquerque, N.M., where he has been preparing for the past year.
He’ll face no easy task when he meets Rodriguez. The rising featherweight talent currently sports an 8-1 professional record and is currently in the midst of a six-fight winning streak. That streak includes five consecutive victories since the time Penn last fought.